Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Space

I'm back! If you've been wondering where I've been...during Christmas vacation Jeff (purposely) left the computer at the office so we could really and truly have some time off.He took all of his vacation days off during my time off so that we could enjoy the break together. I don't think we've had that much space since we began in youth ministry almost 5 years ago.
Let me share one experience we had during that time.
We had been planning on going camping and hiking, but we were so sick the whole time that we scrapped the camping idea- especially because it was so cold (to us- FL standards, of course). However, just before we had to go back to work, we started feeling up for some hiking. We pulled out a book of trails and planned our fun day. The weather was perfect. The sky was a beautiful blue with white wisps meandering across it. The air was crisp, cool, and tempted us with the possibilities of adventure. Jeff packed a lunch and plenty of water and we were off. We drove for almost an hour trying to follow the book's very poor directions, and then altered our schedule. The plan: to find someplace with a trail of any kind, anywhere. Well, that plan was more successful. =) We ended up at a place with bike trails. We never did take the time to figure our the name of the place...

The path began quite wide, but we soon discovered that the soil must either be very fertile, or we found the "road less traveled" because the underbrush encroached more than a little bit onto the path. After walking briskly for about 30 minutes we came out of the woodsy area and found a very sandy area that looked to me like it used to be the bottom of a body of water. At this point, there was no trail, and no directions, no posts, no orange paint makers on the trees, nothing. We didn't think much of it though, because a very green, very lush area to the right caught our eye. So, being the curious explorers we were, we looked around, got our bearings, and took off toward the green-ness. =) We were delighted to find a very deep, very busy creek-with BROWN water. HMM...we crossed it a few times on little bridges, following a new path with markers, following butterflies, stopping to inspect plans, and watching the water rise from high above the creek. We eventually found the source of the creek- it was a very large, very deep river that was moving at a substantial rate of speed. And, it was just as brown as the former. (I wonder why!) We pulled out lunch and kept right on walking. After a while I noticed that the sun was beginning it's decent, and so we decided to head back. On the way back, we thought we'd try a short-cut. Uh huh. Smart move. After a while, I realized that I didn't have a watch, and neither did Jeff. Probably not a smart idea either. The temperature began to drop a little as the sun sank behind the tall trees. In the privacy of my mind, I began to question this short-cut. I also realized that no-one knew where we were, that we didn't have cell phones on us, and we'd only seen one other person on the trail- twice. I started to think that I didn't really feel comfortable with THIS much space. After a few miles of trail that we had never been on, Jeff decided that we should turn around and go back the way we came. He seemed pretty confident and not at all worried. I wanted to believe him, but my mind was running away with me. "What if we have to sleep out here tonight? How would we keep warm? Would there be lots of misquitos even though it's cold? Do we have enough water? Could we follow the big river out? Would someone come looking for us when they saw our car at the trail-head?"

Well, we came to a place where the trail dead-ended into a deep part of the creek. The trail picked up on the other side, but we hadn't crossed here before. Jeff was convinced that this is where we needed to go. So, we balanced, and tested, and gingerly danced across a few old fallen logs. Guess what? We didn't even get wet! =) At times I felt like a character in one of Gene Stratton Portor's novels- the Florida flora and fauna were so beautiful that at times I forgot my worries and felt as if I could be in a dream, or a book. After a few more miles, we came to a fork in the trail. Funny, I've never had a problem with forks before.... Well, praise God that Jeff was wearing his chaco sandals. They have a very distinguishing sole. So, I found our way out of that pickle but Jeff never even let on that there was a pickle. From there, we just followed his footprints out of the forrest.

We learned a few things on this journey: We only like adventure when it means what we want it to mean, needing space is relative, and allowing your wife to follow butterflies guarantees adventure, but isn't always smart unless you have a compass or a map. =)

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